Trillions in military research and procurement means the Military is leading the way to the Science Fiction Future

Most of the world is not changing very fast.
Your home gets bigger and thinner flat screen televisions,
You personally get better tablets, smartphones and wearable gadgets.
At work you get minor changes with another business laptop refresh and software upgrades and often people work with offshore contractors in India or eastern europe and order from factories in China.
The leading companies are working with Big Data and Deep Learning.

The science fiction like future of the military is

* Even more and more powerful robotic drones
* combat lasers will be in various forms of development and testing for the next ten years but will then be deployed in the hundreds of kilowatts and then megawatt ranges for planes, ships and ground vehicles
* railguns will also be deployed for ships and ground vehicles
* there will be persistent realtime surveillance of every person and vehicle on a global basis. This has already been tested on a regional basis
* hypersonic missiles, then hypersonic drones and then other hypersonic planes
* NSA is on every computer. Businesses and the NSA can see every transaction and probably every email, tweet and voice message and all internet activity
* Persistent Video Surveillance goes way beyond Big Brother

In the 2030s, there could be significant deployment and integration. This would mean systems like hypersonic vehicle with high power laser weapons.

As of January 2014, the U.S. military operates a large number of unmanned aerial systems: 7,362 RQ-11 Ravens; 990 AeroVironment Wasp IIIs; 1,137 AeroVironment RQ-20 Pumas; and 306 RQ-16 T-Hawk small UAS systems and 246 Predators and MQ-1C Grey Eagles; 126 MQ-9 Reapers; 491 RQ-7 Shadows; and 33 RQ-4 Global Hawk large systems.

As of mid-2014, the U.S. air force is training more drone pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined. This large cohort is sometimes referred to as the chair-force.

The most advanced drone, the MQ-9 Reaper, costs $12 million which is just one tenth of the cost of a F-22, the militaries most advanced fighter jet. The Predator drone armed with a Hellfire missile is much quieter than a fighter jet, which prevents enemy troops on the ground from hearing it coming and shooting it down. In turn, this reduces cost because the drone does not have to be replaced as often as a fighter jet would if it was put into the same combat situation.

MQ9 Reaper

The Navy’s planned carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will help the service in a transition from manned strike aircraft to a future autonomous strike platform, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said on Wednesday.

“What we’re looking at UCLASS is to be the bridge between manned systems and completely autonomous unmanned strike — which will be sometime in the 2020s — to develop that program using UCLASS to get us there.”

The Navy has plans to introduce UCLASS to the fleet by 2022 to 2023

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet replacement program — F/A-XX…looks like it should be unmanned,” he said.

An artist’s concept of a proposed Lockheed Martin UCLASS design. Lockheed Martin Image

Combat lasers are scaling up from 150 KW to megawatts over the next decade

The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is targeting demonstrating a 100+kw combat laser on a fighter by 2022. The airforce wants to integrate combat laser systems into future fighters in the 2030+.

Initially the combat lasers will be in external pod that attach to the fighter.

The General Atomics HELLADS laser, which will soon shift from a DARPA experiment to a DARPA-Air Force Research Lab joint venture. “That was a major investment on the part of DARPA,” Hardy said. “It’s the first time anybody’s shown you can make a 150-kW-class electric laser.

Special Operations Command wants a laser cannon on future AC-130s.

AC130J models could have lasers. The first two AC130J aircraft will not have the 105mm gun installed. That’ll have to be retrofitted later. The third AC10J AFSOC will simply pull the cannon off retiring AC130 aircraft and install them on the Js. The last seven J-models may carry a laser weapon according to Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold.

The AC-130J is a highly modified C-130J aircraft that contains many advanced features. It contains an advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics. The aircraft is capable of extremely accurate navigation due to the fully integrated navigation systems with dual inertial navigation systems and global positioning system.

The AC-130J is the fourth generation gunship replacing the aging SOF fleet of 37 AC-130H/U/W gunships. AC-130 gunships have an extensive combat history dating to back to Vietnam where gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving close air support missions.

In three years the US military could have a prototype 300 kilowatt laser weapon. This would be ten times the power of the 30 kilowatt laser being tested on the USS Ponce. Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. of Breaking Defense reports this from a Lockheed engineer.

The Army’s High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator(HEL MD) will improve to a 60 kw system late in 2016. This is up from the current 10 kilowatt laser. Today’s technology will enable fiber lasers to scale to 300 kw. Near term improvement to the underlying technology will enable well beyond 500 kw lasers.

Solid state slab lasers (being developed by the Navy and Northrop) should be able to scale to a total power of 300 kW. This will not require any technological breakthroughs. Supporters of slab SSLs such as Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) believe they could eventually be scaled up further, to perhaps 600 kW. Slab SSLs are not generally viewed as easily scalable to megawatt power levels.

At 30 to 35 percent efficiency — the current cutting edge with fiber-optic lasers — 300 kw of output would require just under a megawatt of electrical power.

Railguns for trucks and ships by 2030

BAE Systems officials said the rail gun would have to be scaled down if it were to be mounted on top of the turret of a Future Fighting Vehicle. However, the officials on the AUSA show floor were confident it was possible.

* mach 7 kinetic energy round (twice the muzzle velocity and four times the kinetic energy)
* cheaper round that has no explosives in it so it is safer to store
* the Navy gun is 30 feet (10 meters long) which is the same as the M1 tank gun. It is the power and other systems that need to be fitted to a ground vehicle
* more ammo for deeper magazine
* General Atomic has a larger (almost no miniturization work needed) mobile land based railgun system proposed that would be multiple mission and focused on destroying missiles and other targets

Railgun on the back of flatbed of a truck during testing. Firing through concrete and metal. This if from the General Atomics video

Image of the navy railgun to be deployed in sea trials in 2016. This gun would be reduced in size for a tank killing railgun for a new ground Vehicle

General Atomics has a vision of a mobile ground based railgun system that involves three heavy trucks. BAE would have to reduce the size and weight of a fighting vehicle gun by about ten times.

BAE Systems presented a host of possible technologies at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference last week. Among those was a model of the electromagnetic rail gun the company is developing for the Navy.

The rail gun, which can hit ranges of 100 miles or more, uses electricity stored on the ship to generate a high-speed electromagnetic pulse sufficient to propel a kinetic energy warhead. The result is an inexpensive, high-impact and long-range offensive weapon, service officials said.

General Atomics Video
General Atomic vision of a mobile land based railgun system on three bigger and heavier trucks

Aeronautical engineers at Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocket­dyne have been designing the SR-72 at their Skunk Works black site in California for the past several years. It will require a hybrid propulsion system: a conventional, off-the-shelf turbo jet that can take the plane from runway to Mach 3, and a hypersonic ramjet/scramjet that will push it the rest of the way. Its body will have to withstand the extreme heat of hypersonic flight, when air friction alone could melt steel. Its bombs will have to hit targets from possibly 80,000 feet. Lockheed says the craft could be deployed by 2030. Once it is, the plane’s ability to cover one mile per second means it could reach any location on any continent in an hour—not that you’ll see it coming.

The aircraft will accelerate to about Mach 3 under turbojet power, switch to ramjet power to take it to about Mach 5, and then switch again to scramjet mode, which uses supersonic air for combustion.

Hypersonic missiles will be developed before hypersonic drones. The SR72 hypersonic spy drone could be flying by 2030.

NSA is on every computer. Businesses and the NSA can see every transaction and probably every email, tweet and voice message and all internet activity

The National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives, allowing them to monitor and eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers – even when they are not connected to the internet.

The Moscow-based security software maker Kaspersky Lab said it has found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria.

The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists

Persistent Surveillance goes way beyond Big Brother

Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) flies a small Cessna aircraft 10,000 feet overhead. The surveillance planes are loaded up with specialized 192 megapixel cameras that could watch 25 square miles of territory, and it provided something no ordinary helicopter or police plane could: a Tivo-style time machine that could watch and record movements of every person and vehicle below.

After learning about the attempted robberies, PSS conducted frame-by-frame video analysis of the bookstore and sandwich shop and was able to show that exactly one car traveled between them. Further analysis showed that the suspect then moved on to a Family Dollar store in the northern part of the city, robbed it, stopped for gas—where his face was captured on video—and eventually returned home.

A person shows up as one single pixel and they can track movement of the person to a vehicle and then track the movement of vehicles.

PSS systems have witnessed 34 people being murdered within their imaged areas and been able to track people to and from those scenes. The people who confessed on being captured with assistance of their imagery confessed to a total of 75 murders. Many of the people confessed once captured to many more murders than PSS Systems tracked them to.

They work from reported crimes and start with the exact time and location of the crime. Then they track movement in and out of the crime scene.

PSS continues to hire analysts—and they prefer them to be gamers.

“The biggest requirement I have is that they play video games,” he said. “If they can do a first-person shooter, they can track cars really well. I can teach them how to do investigations, PowerPoint, and brief the officers on what they saw. Then the only problem is that then I lose them to military intelligence that pay four to five times better a few years later.”

50 gigapixel cameras are being developed. Long duration drones are becoming more inexpensive.

Each 50 gigapixel camera could track 110 kilometers by 110 kilometers.

About 900 drones in the air at the same time with 50 gigapixel cameras could monitor movement over every part of the United States.

The AWARE-10 5-10 gigapixel camera was in production and on-line in 2012. Significant improvements have been made to the optics, electronics, and integration of the camera. Some are described here: Camera Evolution. The goal of this DARPA project is to design a long-term production camera that is highly scalable from sub-gigapixel to tens-of-gigapixels. Deployment of the system is envisioned for military, commercial, and civilian applications.

A major advantage of this design is that it can be scaled. Except for slightly different surface curvatures, the same microcamera design suffices for 2, 10, and 40 gigagpixel systems. FOV is also strictly a matter of adding more cameras, with no change in the objective lens or micro-optic design

MSNBC Future of Tech – 50 gigapixels is the upper limit because it is the precision limit of lens-manufacturing technology, and also because beyond that you start running into the resolution limit of the atmosphere, i.e. what can be discerned through all those pesky air molecules between the camera and the subject. So it’s no surprise that they’re considering imaging at that size for astronomical rather than terrestrial photography.

Brady explains that right now, the size and quality of images is limited by the quality of the main objective lens, but they have already built a superior lens for 10-gigapixel images.

The cameras will be very useful to enable new capabilities for artificial intelligence and robotic systems

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